[NetBehaviour] comments on blockchain, art, etc., discussion with Ruth

Rob Myers rob at robmyers.org
Tue Nov 7 23:12:01 CET 2017

On Tue, 31 Oct 2017, at 07:32 PM, Alan Sondheim wrote:
> On Tue, 31 Oct 2017, Rob Myers wrote:
> > On Fri, 27 Oct 2017, at 08:13 PM, Pall Thayer via NetBehaviour wrote:
> >       This is a great read. Now I want someone to explain to me how a
> >       non-material (non-existent) work of art maintains its
> >       immateriality (its non-existence) despite a record in the
> >       blockchain.
> > 
> > Immateriality and inexistence are different matters. :-)
> > 
> > Registering something in the blockchain doesn't anchor its being or cause it
> > to come into existence unless we agree it does or we have some way of
> > evaluating that existence -
> > 
> > http://robmyers.org/proof-of-existence/
> > 
> Does being need anchoring, or substantiation?

Outside of Pall's concern that blockchain mentions of the immaterial
might materialise it I don't know. Being seems to me to be largely a
matter of regard, but then we're in correlationist territory. Much of
philosophy seems to me to be the cognitive equivalent of the pathetic
fallacy but then mind is a product of its environment. I'm not a fan of
the idea of using Skynet as an aid to philosophical enquiry though.

> Here we're running into the 
> ontology of language, if I say "blue book" does that mean it exists? What 
> if I say "Here is a blue book." and so forth. Mikel Dufrenne wrote about 
> the world of the book (he was a phenomenology, a teacher of Kristeva 
> etc.), what the reader takes for granted, in other words the diegesis of 
> the novel perhaps. And the discussion should move to diegesis as well as 
> Coleridge's willing suspension of disbelief...

Meinong's jungle is noisy at night.
> > For entities we are claiming exist outside of the blockchain, the data that
> > claims to register that existence is a proxy for them. We cannot validate
> > the correctness of that claim using the blockchain's consensus rules in the
> > same way we can for a simple value transaction if we wish to validate the
> > fact of the registered object's existence outside of the blockchain.
> > Something about being outside the text. We can only validate that person X
> > placed a record on the blockchain, and possibly that later they sent it to
> > person Y.
> This does seem to relate to the ontology of capital itself.

Absolutely. And also to the capital of ontology.

> > We use such proxies when buying and selling physical property such as cars
> > or houses, or more pertinently when buying and selling conceptual art.
> > Certificates of authenticity for conceptual art are even more material than
> > blockchain records. But I feel they are still proxies for the work rather
> > than being the work, although this may just be the conceptual art fan in me
> > speaking.
> What I wonder about is in a sense the derailing of conceptual art, which 
> was a reaction at the time, at least among many artists, against the 
> materialism and mercantilism of the gallery/promotion structure. Given 
> that a conceptual work can be incorporated into blockchain, which itself 
> is an abstracting, is it necessary then to go into a discussion of
> 'buying 
> and selling conceptual art'? Isn't this a leap which many artists, at 
> least at the time, wouldn't make; doesn't it reduce conceptualism to the 
> usual marketplace phenomenology, instead of the radical gesture that, at 
> least for some, it embodied? For some reason Beuys comes to mind - he 
> wasn't a conceptualist, but his teaching and art occupied such a radical 
> position - as does the work of the Guerrilla Girls etc. ..

Yes recuperation is a constant threat. Or, viewed cynically, the point.

My favourite Guerilla Girls project at the moment is one that didn't get
made - they suggested that a gallerist open their gallery's books as
"the show"...

- Rob.

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